Your stomach’s the ultimate prankster: It can trick you into believing you’re jonesing for food when really, you don’t need the sustenance at all. Well, we’re not falling for it anymore—and you won’t be either after you get this need-to-know intel.
① You’re Dehydrated
Guzzling water doesn’t speed up weight loss, but skimping on H2O can make you confuse thirst for hunger, according to experts. Luckily, we’ve got 10 ways you can drink more water.
② You’re Constantly Looking at FoodPorn
Unfortunately, your favorite Instagram pastime isn’t so great for your waistline. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that seeing images of crazy-delicious food activates the brain’s reward center and can cause you to overeat.
③ You’re Not Catching Enough Z’s
Sleep deprivation makes food look extra appetizing, causing you to feel hungrier and reach for larger portions than normal, according to a 2013 study. Check out these 15 tricks to sleep better tonight.
④ You’re Watching TV
While you’re focused on the latest episode of The Walking Dead, you’ll want to stay away from anything edible. Why? You can’t pay attention to your hunger cues, how much you’re eating, and all of those zombies at the same time, according to a recent study.
So if you don’t press pause until after you’re done with your snack or meal, you’re basically bound to overeat.
⑤ You Eat Too Much Sugar
A 2011 study found that consuming a ton of the sweet stuff can throw off the hormonal balance in your gut:
Eating it in excess amounts slows the production of leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite) and allows ghrelin (a hormone that tells your brain you’re hungry) to fool you into thinking you need to eat more.
⑥ You Love Going to Happy Hour
Booze affects leptin levels, too, giving you a major case of the munchies, says past research. On a related note, your drinking habit can make you consume hundreds of extra calories. No thanks.
⑦ You’re Stressed (or Anticipating Being Stressed)
Here’s another reason to hate anxiety: Worrying about an event in the future can cause ghrelin to spike, which raises hunger levels, says new research.
Unfortunately, this effect is even stronger when you’re actually in the middle of experiencing something stressful.